I decided to post this cos I think that is curious. Frank Geramita (anyone know who is this guy?) was a man that fell into the American Song-Poem world.
To summarize, the Song-Poem industry was a process begins with those enticing little ads, placed by song sharks in any publication for which they perceive a large and credulous readership. Basically, they wanted to song's poets. :-You send us your poem and we'll transform it into a beautiful song!.
When the song-poet responds by sending the verse for "evaluation, the company responded by mail with a great offer!, :-Your poem was selected and recorded by a band, now we need a small part of money for cover just the costs, and then we'll work in the promotion through a Record label. (In this case "Tin Pan Alley").
The fact is, that the money demanded as a fee, covers a lot more than just a "small portion" of the costs: it subsidizes the entire overhead and profit for that record, and so once the record is produced and manufactured the company has already gotten from it everything that it can. It is of no further value to them.
Having said that, the closest thing to a "release", is when a batch of them is mailed to the song-poet.
But how does the Song-Poem industry can work with such low costs?, well, the melodies were either improvised or recycled and musicians often recorded dozens of songs per recording session using minimal resources, often in one take. Some of the companies recorded new vocals over pre-recorded music backing tracks, using the same music tracks hundred of times. The recordings were then duplicated on 45 RPM vinyl singles or on individual cassette tapes, or they were released on compilation LPs with dozens of other songs by amateur lyric writers. Copies were sent to the customer. Promises that they would also be sent to radio stations or music industry executives were rarely if ever kept, partly because the recordings would not have been taken seriously by professionals.
Just listen to this Single of Geramita to understand what I'm talkin about!